|Luke 2:51-52||Read Online|
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.
—Luke 2:51 (HCSB)
As I sat down to write my thoughts on this passage, my 2-year-old granddaughter came up and tugged at my arm. Could we read a book please? Both of these options were valuable and important, but I had to choose between them.
In this solitary glimpse we have into Jesus’ childhood, we see that He too faced a choice between two right actions. After the Passover festival, He could’ve returned home with His family as He’d always done. Or He could’ve stayed in His Father’s house, bringing the wisdom God had given Him to a council of Jewish scholars.
How often do we wrestle with two right choices? It’s a very different sort of wrestling than the kind we sometimes experience when we know one choice is right and one is wrong.
Here we’re told Jesus fully believed He had to be in His Father’s house. He even expected Mary and Joseph somehow to know that. Yet as soon as they found Him, He “went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them.”
It seems that even as a very young man, Jesus already possessed the wisdom to discern the right priorities. He stayed in His Father’s house for five days. But for Him to stay longer when His parents expected Him go with them would be to break the Law itself: “Honor your father and your mother.”
Years later, Jesus told another group of Jewish leaders, “The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way” (John 5:19). This was His advantage. Because He was one with His Father, Jesus could perfectly choose between two right paths.
Even though we aren’t able see what the Father is doing as clearly as Jesus did, we can learn at least couple things about making choices from this brief event in His early life.
First, Jesus put the priority of His Father above the priority of His parents. This story ends with the note that Jesus “grew in favor with God and with people.” Sometimes both are possible. But if one kind of favor has to be sacrificed—and later in Jesus’ life it definitely did—then we should forego the favor of people when God’s favor requires it.
Second, we need to realize there are times when our obedience to God will be misunderstood and may even be painful to those whom we love—because God is accomplishing something in their lives as well. Those few days of worried anguish may well have been part of God’s preparation for the far greater suffering Mary would later endure because of her son.
The only way we will be able to make the right right choices is to have the power Jesus had: the power of God’s grace (Luke 2:40). You see, “right” is defined as what God considers to be right. God will give us His grace, and we will grow in His favor, as we seek to make the choices that are most pleasing to Him.
- Think of a time when you had to choose between two right paths. What considerations influenced your eventual decision? Do you now believe they were the best determining factors?
- If God has a specific plan for our lives, why does He sometimes allow us to be challenged by two or more right choices?
- Jesus knew His calling was to teach people God’s ways. Yet after this one incident He waited another eighteen years before stepping into His calling. Think of other men in the Bible who were called by God but did not wait for His timing. What happened to them?
- Why should we be cautious when others ask us for advice on choices they are facing?